9 Apr 2024

New Zealand plant-based meat company Sunfed to shut

10:52 am on 9 April 2024

[xh Plant-based meat company Sunfed to shut

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SunFed Meats received $1.5 million in start-up funding to turn yellow peas imported from Canada into a plant-based "chicken" product. Photo: supplied

New Zealand plant-based meat company Sunfed has announced it will be shutting down as its inventory runs out and investors leave..

Sunfed chief executive Shama Sukul Lee posted a video to the company's Facebook page on Monday revealing the news.

The company, which started in 2015, provided meat alternatives across New Zealand and Australia, using regenerative yellow peas, water and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil as its primary ingredients.

Fans of the range in Australia have been reporting difficulty finding it over the last few months, and on Monday Lee said their inventory in Australian Woolworths ran out in January.

For New Zealand, she said, "the remaining inventory is projected to run out in the next two months".

Lee said Covid, staff shortages, supply chain disruptions and skyrocketing costs, had left the business "pretty battered and bruised" and in need of a cash injection.

But she said the "plant-based bubble" had burst and the existing venture capital investors were "no longer interested in supporting the business."

Lee said a lot of investors had jumped into the "plant-based gold rush" expecting "fast valuation returns similar to what they're used to in the virtual world," but had discovered manufacturing was a lot more complex.

But she felt the investors had also let the company down.

"Sunfed's VC investors chose not to clear the way for Sunfed, but instead held on to their preferential claims, which complicated new capital options for the company."

In 2016, SunFed Meats had received about $1.5 million in start-up funding for a business to turn yellow peas imported from Canada into a plant-based "chicken" product.